Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My journey with tuberculosis (TB)

tuberculosis healing story
I'm narrating my story to help spread awareness and share my experience and the lessons I learned. Please do not use this as basis for self diagnosis as this does not in any way intend to substitute a medical expert's advice or provide misleading information. Please seek a medical expert's advice! Keep these in mind while reading my story.

I gave birth in our hometown and my husband and I started to live together in Cebu when our baby's still 3 months old. As first time parents, we thought we could do everything with ourselves that time.

In terms of taking care of our months old baby, there wasn't much to do since basically he just eats and sleeps. I breastfed him, thus I didn't have to allot time to prepare the feeding bottles and he slept at least twice a day. These gave me much time to do all the household chores by myself and enabled me to fulfill my other responsibilities. We didn't earlier realize that as he grows, he will be demanding more from us.

When he started growing, he then took interest in running around the house, eating whatever's on the floor, and touching anything he can get his hands on (eg. power outlet). Plus, he doesn't seem to settle in one place! He now eats solid food more frequently (adding to my chores) and his sleeping times get less. He has now more time to be awake (aka more kulitan time), needing more attention and requiring super human efforts from me.

Juggling all these with no househelp led me to an unhealthy lifestyle: inadequate sleep and improper eating habits (eating and sleeping less and late), and no exercise. The improper nutrition, stress and fatigue most likely affected my overall health condition making me susceptible to the disease.

One time i got fever, chills, and body pains. I thought I just got flu. The fever and body pains recurred for few days during the night. It was also noticeable that I lost my appetite when in fact I love to eat. Everybody was also telling me I seemed to lose weight and looked smaller. Then, I realized my cough had already been running for almost 2 weeks. 

I had myself checked and I found out I lost 3 kilos (almost 7 pounds!). I was asked to have an X-ray exam and the result showed a cavity in my lungs. My pulmonologist confirmed I have TB.

How did it affect my life?
I didn't feel scared because I'm aware it can be treated. My mother had it last year and went on a 6 month treatment with a strict daily intake of medicines. Now, she's fine. My doctor said the bacteria is present in our environment and can affect you if you have a low immune system. I may have gotten it from my mother and got activated when my system went down and was at a vulnerable state.

But, being sick definitely affected the quality of life I lead. It kept me from fulfilling my roles and responsibilities well, it drained our wallets, and put a strain in my relationships.

I feel tired all the time, which prevents me to perform some household chores and makes me short tempered. I have mood swings and get easily annoyed with my husband and little one. I also have to maintain medicines for 6 months and have to go for a monthly check-up and laboratory exams until I'm already well. This has definitely affected our money resources.

What did I learn?
With this journey, I've learned that part of being a responsible parent is to keep yourself healthy at all times. Yes, we moms are superheroes of our family. But we're the type of superheroes who get tired and sick. We have to recharge, sit back and relax once in a while, and consciously lead a healthy lifestyle. We're humans, and our bodies have needs. Thus, we have to take care of ourselves too! Otherwise, we'll end up unable to fulfill our roles if we fail to fulfill our body's needs first. You can't attend to your family's needs, you can't enjoy your time with them and the things you love most, and you will miss a lot of things. And if we're sick, we're also putting our family's health at great risk because they can also be infected.

I do believe the second investment you should be making after investing in your relationship with God is to invest in your health. Our body demands a hefty price if not taken cared of well. Being healthy gives you the right mind and body that would enable you to take care of your family, your career, and your relationships, and give more to the cause closest to your heart.

Taking care of yourself means knowing and doing what's best for you. Create the best defense and don't let your guard down to avoid the negativity of the world from entering your body. Take everything in moderation, eat the right food, and do exercise. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we have the huge responsibility of keeping it safe, healthy, and sound.

My advice?
As a parent, it's rewarding to be hands on but that doesn't mean you have to do literally everything. Get a yaya/house help. Ask help from your parents, parent in laws or relatives to look after your kids or help around the house. Get every help you could get!

I'm now going on my 2nd month of medication. I still have more than 4 months to go but I'm not afraid. I'm strictly taking my meds and I live a healthy lifestyle. Jesus is my healer and I believe I will be treated from TB.